Texting and driving poses a huge problem for both motorists and pedestrians world-wide. According to the International Transport Forum’s Road Safety Annual Report, South Africa has one of the highest motor-related accident rates in the world, with about 25% of the total accidents caused by texting and driving. But how exactly do you catch someone using their mobile device while driving?
The Australian New South Wales (NSW) police department seems to have an answer to this question. They have announced the introduction of a ‘cell-phone detection camera’ to the roads by the end of 2019.
The announcement of the new camera system comes after a six-month trial period that took place between January and June of this year. The technology was supplied by a company called Acusensus and was able to check 8.5 million vehicles during the trial period. The new system was able to accurately identify over 100,000 drivers who were illegally using their phone while driving.
Image: NSW Transport.
The system is able to identify drivers who text and drive by using AI to review photos for any tell-tail signs for phone use. Human reviewers then analyse the flagged photos to prevent any errors or false flags.
“As drivers come to realise that their phone use can be monitored and the information used against them in court they are less likely to risk it,” Neil Greig, Policy and Research director at U.K safety for road safety told CNBC in an email. He then went on to say that “These detectors are still in their infancy but it is clear they have growing potential to target hands held use of mobile phones and give the police a reliable method of education and enforcement.”
For the first three months of the initiative, drivers caught using their phones will be let off easy by receiving a warning. Repeat offenders, however, will have to pay up. Should they be caught again, drivers will be fined around R3400 ($344 AUD) along with getting five demerit points added to their license. This fine could climb to around R4500 ($457 AUD) with 10 demerit points added to their license if they’re caught texting and driving in a school zone.
Feature image: Pixabay.